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Ambassador Neelam Deo is the Former Consul General of India in New York. She has a Masters degree in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics and has taught in[…]

Neelam Deo draws a line between practicing yoga and wearing the bindi.

Question: Is religion changing in India?

Neelam Deo: I think people’s relationship with religion is evolving. People are, I hope, [Laughs] becoming more knowledgeable about the relationship, about the religion itself, not just that I am born into this religion so this is who I am, but also what that religion is about, and certainly some people are. But there is a great celebration of religion in India, and most people are very religious. They think of themselves as very religious.


Question: Is it okay for celebrities to appropriate eastern religion

Neelam Deo: I think, it depends. I mean, you know, if celebrities or anybody else for that matter wants to do yoga, for example, I think that’s fine. It’s a great system. It’s very good for you physically and mentally. And one shouldn’t make exaggerated claims for it, but one doesn’t have to worry that, you know, people take it up. And then, sometimes they get into directions which are not part of the traditional Indian system, for example. I think, that, you know, if people want to wear the bindi, the red dot or want to wear henna, that’s cultural. I don’t know that that’s a religion or philosophy or theology, and that’s nice, [Laughs] you know, it’s a moment of recognition when you see it outside of your own cultural milieu. But, I think, that, yes, when people who read one book and then want to be listened to respectfully on a religion which is old, which is complex, which has many manifestations, then you can feel a little impatient.


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